Saturday, April 30, 2005

Welling 1-0 Lewes

Proper report: Bexley Express

"Who do they think they are? Grays?" A trip to Park View Road to see Welling's last game of the season against Lewes, who managed to jump two leagues via play-offs to land a place in the new Conference South. If their fabulously-named Dripping Pan ground was good enough, they'd be in the play-offs for the "proper" Conference. But it isn't, so the Sussex side came with nothing to play for.

Welling had nothing to play for either - but with good reason. The efforts of new manager Adrian Pennock - who has a touch of the Strachan about him - have seen the Wings just clear the relegation zone. So it was a relaxed, yet still entertaining and competitive affair at Park View Road. Lewes clearly see themselves as a side with ambition, speedy ex-AFC Wimbledon player and So Solid Crew geezer Michael Harvey was among their team, while they always looked threatening on the break.

But Welling looked strong, if hesitant in front of goal. And it was a Charlton player who helped turn it around - 19-year-old academy player Onome Sodje, on loan for the Wings, came on as a substitute after 35 minutes, and immediately assisted Paul Booth with the goal which on the game.

Sodje (in red in the picture) won the man of the match award, and looked the part - he anticipates the ball well, has good pace, unsettling the Lewes defence. He regularly went over to Pennock's dugout to get instructions from the boss - he looks like he's learning fast, his only real failing when he reacted furiously to being up-ended by a Lewes player, thankfully not spotted by the dismal referee.

£9 to get in, another quid to sit in the stand for a game which was far livelier than I expected, with plenty of good-natured banter. With the expected drop in our season-ticket renewals this summer, I wonder how many disaffected Addicks will end up at DA16's San Siro next season?

The result leaves Welling 16th, one place in front of one-time moneybags club Hornchurch, torn about by the collapse of their backers. "Shame it's the last game of the season," muttered one old sage behind me. After a bumpy season for Welling, hopefully the Wings will fly a bit easier next season.

  • There was a collection at the game for the family of ex-Welling striker Paul Sykes, who collapsed and died while playing for Folkestone Invicta in a Kent Senior Cup semi-final against Margate. Monday's Kent Senior Cup final, between Dover and Margate, which will be held at Folkestone, has become a benefit game for Sykes' family. Donations can also be made via Dover's website (scroll down) until Monday.

  • Too many cooks spoil the party...

    I've spent most of the last week in Barcelona, soaking up a bit of sun and getting away from all things Charlton. On Wednesday I was sat up high in the Nou Camp, under blue skies, watching Samuel Eto'o teach some children some ball skills. I tapped out couple of text messages back home to show off. "That wouldn't happen at The Valley - Paddy would be chasing them off with a pitchfork," was one reply.

    But there's been some storm clouds while I've been away over the centenary street party, which, may people would have you believe, has erupted from fine idea to farce. The club's not said anything officially yet, but in case you don't know, the street party due to take place in June in Eastmoor Street, where CAFC was founded in 1905, has now been moved to the car park at The Valley. Erm, nice.

    As far as I understand it, and to cut a hell of a long story short, it seems the supporters' club - whose Bromley branch was behind the idea - was made an offer by the club that it couldn't refuse. Which is down to them, and so long as a proposal to start with a march from Eastmoor Street, via Pound Park and the Royal Oak, goes ahead, I'd back it. Remember, we're a club from Charlton, not Chatham.

    To be fair, Eastmoor Street is a dump these days, summed up by the torched Victoria pub at its head, although it does have a bit of open space and, of course, there's the Thames Barrier site as well. However, it does appear fears over the suitability of the site only emerged after the club got involved - Greenwich Council (whose street-cleaning machines would have faced a stern test down Mirfield Street!) and the police had backed the event.

    It does seem, though, that the more parties got involved, the more the idea went off the rails, and it's a pity the already-weak supporters' club couldn't manage it on its own - and is now going to go through another round of internal tantrums. This is only a view of an outsider looking in, of course, and I'm anticipating a "you don't know what you're talking about" response to this. But how must this look to those outside the tiny, tiny clique of highly-placed fans who know about this stuff?

    In the meantime, those who organised it need your support for the revamped event. After all, they're the ones who have raised their heads above the petty politics which surround our club. If CAFC can be persuaded to offer a few things which only the club can offer - tours of the ground, that kind of thing, this little difficulty will be forgotten about. And make sure you're at Eastmoor Street first. It's our history, our club - and if us as fans don't seize the chance to make a mark on our centenary year, we won't deserve another 100 years of football. Stuff the politics, let's have a party.

    Saturday, April 23, 2005

    Norwich 1-0 Charlton

    Proper reports by people who didn't have the sun in their eyes all game:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Pink 'Un.

    For me, it was my 14th and final away trip of the season, and it was as pigging awful as the first one, that 4-1 thumping at Bolton. Except then we were awful, and, truth be told, we weren't bad at all today. Neither side really looked like breaking the deadlock until the 88th minute when Mathias Svensson - you could have put money on that, couldn't you? - knocked home a winner.

    It's not even an easy day for lovers of scapegoating, although Bryan Hughes surely won't be in our team next season, will he? Danny Murphy and Dennis Rommedahl both had moments of inspiration, Luke Young played well out of position and Talal El Karkouri's strength was just what we needed. Who knows, keep this team training together for the summer and with a few new additions, we might just do alright next season. Franny Jeffers didn't have a classic, though - one to remember next time he moans about this being one of the worst seasons of his career.

    But for now, there's deep frustration - a large away turnout of 2,000+, but even then I found myself surrounded by mutes, including one gentleman whose only contribution was to fart every ten minutes or so. He was the one next to me. Do we really want success? It's a fair enough question to ask of our players and manager - but it also applies to our fans as well.

    For now, we're 11th - out of the top ten for the first time since heaven-knows-when. Our next two opponents? Manchester United and Chelsea. Curbs is going to have to work hard for his bonuses - which reportedly depend on a top ten finish. Perhaps next season that level could be set a little higher...

    On the way home, a perspective check as a group of Kingstonian fans got on the Jubilee Line at Stratford. They'd lost 3-2 at Chelmsford. Their team - five years ago a Conference side in the FA Trophy final - have been relegated to Isthmian Division 1. Their club is reeling after being bled dry by their last owner. Things could be a whole lot worse, you know.

    Thursday, April 21, 2005

    Sing when you're drawing...

    Villa reports:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Independent, The Guardian, The Times, Daily Telegraph, London Evening Sub-Standard, Addick's Diary, .
    Well, I said I wasn't expecting anything from last night's game, and well, I didn't really get much, either. Apart from a slight sense of disorientation at how cold it was in Brum this morning, and how warm it is in London this afternoon. Yeah, it made that much impression on me.

    Trouble is, of course, it was bloody obvious we were playing for a point. Which as a confidence-boosting measure is fair enough - we kept a clean sheet and all that - but it's hardly going to see us leapfrog Spurs any day soon. And to be fair, neither side looked like winning it all game, really.

    Franny Jeffers was up front again, although he didn't look particularly sharp - today's Independent names him and Dennis Rommedahl as two of the Premiership's 20 worst-value signings of the season. I thought Dennis had an alright game, but when he was subsituted for a fading Jason Euell, you could see the extent of our ambitions.

    Good to see Talal El Karkouri back, ending some of the timidity of our recent play, although Bryan Hughes' continued involvement in our first XI is absolutely baffling. And while he wasn't a model of consistency, Jonatan Johansson is ten times the player down the wing than he is up front.

    Ho-hum. The patient's not dead yet, the pulse seems to have picked up a little bit. Perhaps a trip to Norfolk will spark a bit of life into it.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2005

    Carlton Cole is an idiot

    Proof? Here goes...

    Carlton Cole has accused Aston Villa manager David O'Leary of not offering him enough support during a season of injury and indifferent form.

    Cole, 21, told the Birmingham Evening Mail: "I'm not going to lie. I've been unhappy with my performances.

    "But sometimes you need support from your manager as well when you are feeling low.

    "I'm still gaining experience. I need my manager to say, 'Yes, you can do it, I have confidence in your ability'."

    The big baby. He did a few useful things for us, then couldn't wait to leave, then ends up in the same position with Villa as he did was us. I bet Jose Mourinho can't wait to get shot of him once the season's over and he's back at Chelsea. Why does English football breed so many players with a mental age of five?

    (Is this the way to) Aston Villa

    Sorry, couldn't resist the headline. After the past few weeks, I've no idea what to expect at Villa Park tonight, although it's almost certain to be a tiny away crowd - and to be fair, midweek visits to Birmingham don't really go well with the reality of most people's lives. I'd like to see Jeffers up front again, and while Konch's suspension will be a blow, we will at least have Talal El Karkouri back in action. I'm not past caring, but I'm not expecting anything - with Villa as unpredictable as we've been this season, it's not an easy one to call.

    If you can't make it up there, the match is on digital radio and the internet only. Since I'm staying up there (no milk train for me), you'll get the usual clueless ramblings at some point tomorrow.

    Saturday, April 16, 2005

    Charlton 1-2 Bolton

    Proper reports:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Observer, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times, Manchester Evening News, News of the World, Sunday People.

    And roll the credits. It's over. Midtable obscurity beckons once again - never a bad thing when there's worse fates to be had, but when you couldn't put a fag paper between us and Bolton, a game which saw us put in more effort and fight since the Tottenham triumph has still left a bitter taste in my mouth.

    The Premier League honoured Charlton's disability day by putting a blind man in charge of the game - he must have been, because no competent man, woman or guide dog would have thought that Herman Hreidarrson handled the ball in the box. Alan Wiley stunned Charlton's players and surprised our opponents by handing a penalty to the Trotters, which Jay-Jay Okocha converted. The lack of celebrations from Bolton's players - the impressively-suited Sam Allardyce (there's a man waiting for a medallion) barely moved from his spot - showed what a stroke of luck they'd just had.

    But the laughable antics of Wiley went on to un-nerve both sets of players, resulting in a strange first half. When Jussi Jaaskelainen handled outside his box, he waited for the hapless ref to call him over... and nothing happened. Thankfully, Curbs reverted to 4-5-1, and put Francis Jeffers up front. He repaid the boss's faith by scoring from Murphy's crisp free kick. Charlton had the edge over Bolton in the first period, but were unable to turn their slight dominance into a lead.

    Bolton came back stronger in the second half, and when spitter of the season El Hadj Diouf came on, he was given free rein to head in Bolton's winner, our defence frozen in the box. Same old story. We had a bumpy first half, and the game ended frantically - so many half-chances, so many headers sent wide, or 50/50 decisions going ahead of us.

    It's often said the players don't care - and there does seem to be a gulf between the squad and the fans. But when the final whistle was blown, Matt Holland crashed to the ground, distraught - while I'm not his greatest fan, it was hard not to sympathise with his frustration. We deserved more than defeat today, and Alan Wiley's performance as ref was partly to blame.

    We huffed, puffed, but frankly, we may have been good enough today, but weren't good enough over the season. A calm and competent Bolton sail serenely towards Europe, while our hot and cold team are now anchored in the mid-table harbour. Jeffers' performance was hugely encouraging, while Dennis Rommedahl had some outstanding moments - the best, surely, has yet to come. Bryan Hughes was underwhelming, mind, and Jerome Thomas still needs to stop showing off. He'll get there, hopefully.

    Perhaps, with the pressure off us, we'll perform better. We start the season's afterlife at Aston Villa on Wednesday. See you in Brum.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2005

    Monday, April 11, 2005

    Here we go again

    It came by text message yesterday. By the end of the week, I expect some of the world's greatest philosophers will be stroking their chins as they consider this:

    "The worst thing about being a Charlton fan, is other Charlton fans."

    And it's true. Netaddicks was full of it today. I haven't even bothered with the mailing list. We hit a bad run, and all perspective goes flying out of the window. The Curbs-bashers gleefully leap upon an excuse to trash the record of our greatest-ever manager, ignoring the fact he played the 4-4-2 they demanded so loudly, and got beat. Ignoring the fact we remain in the top ten, 9th in the table, not 19th like Palace. Ignoring the fact we're above lavishly-resourced Aston Villa, Newcastle, Manchester City, Birmingham and Southampton. Blind to all reason, deaf to all but their own arguments, they won't be happy until we're playing lovely, flowing entertaining football... on a Tuesday night at Gresty Road.

    All of this somehow presumes Llewellyn is quite content with springtime slumps and a 4-2 thumping by the seaside. Take Charlton out of it and look at the man - Curbishley's teams do have a horrible habit of slumping from March. We did it when we won Division 1 in 2000. We did it two years later in the Premiership, and the year after that. Now we're doing it again. If Curbs wants to succeed at a higher level, whether that's with us or elsewhere, he's got to fix this, for himself if not for us. Only a bleeding idiot would think he's unaware of this.

    "There are hidden dangers in the comfort zone that they occupy at present," The Times' Nick Szczepanik wrote of us in today's paper. "A vague notion that it might be quite nice to qualify for the Uefa Cup does not make for passionate performances of the sort that Portsmouth gave on Saturday." And perhaps it's true, maybe we should start to expect to beat least year's total, rather than simply aim for it. Watching Sam Allardyce on Saturday, he seems to have set his sights high - why can't we? Mind you, if Bolton had lost, the positions could easily be reversed. And the Trotters have had a few worse seasons than us in their time.

    On the bent Premier League, everything is easier said than done. Who in the Premier League would you rather be than Charlton? Bolton and Middlesbrough are the only "small" clubs above us - and it took until last season for Boro to get into Europe. Tell fans of other clubs people moan about Curbishley and faces drop with disbelief.

    Sure, we can perform like planks on the pitch, but it's when the Curbs Out lobby starts to come out of the woodwork it gets really depressing, as misery-making as the muted crowd at Portsmouth (did the free coaches get mixed up with Saga specials?) We've had a rough season and have got away with it in far better form than we could expect, with a summer to rebuild and recuperate. We need to back the team for the last five games, not get on its back. Or maybe one day, you'll get the team you deserve. And you really wouldn't want that.

    Sunday, April 10, 2005

    Portsmouth 4-2 Charlton

    Proper reports:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Observer, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday People.

    I'm writing this after attending a champagne-drenched wedding reception, which has largely wiped out my memories of Saturday's game. It doesn't help that I was right down the front, which has probably got me on Match of the Day, but is no good in trying to work out what the bally hell is going on in a game of football. But if I think a little further back... no, I don't want to remember. Can I think of the silly dancing from later on, please?

    Some simple thoughts, however, persist through my bubbly haze.

    1) 4-4-2. Happy now?

    2) Our defence was, once again, totally to blame for the opening two goals. Static, luckless, hopeless.

    3) Pompey's opening goals came from down the right - Stone and Yakuba had us sussed from the start.

    4) Danny Murphy's continuing woeful form. Liverpool fans used to bemoan his apparent ability to totally switch off for huge great stretches of games. Despite his goal - and the cracking second-half save he forced - he's in his third crap game in a row.

    5) Shaun Bartlett - a joke. Franny Jeffers - well, now you know why he hasn't been picked. Jason Euell - where was he?

    6) I don't buy us switching off last season, but it's definitely happening this season - this is at least the third out of five we've started falling asleep beyond 40 points. It's becoming a cliche, and it's far beyond a joke. We've got to look at our training methods - the season ends in May, not March. If anything, if Alan Curbishley himself wants to progress beyond the boss of a "nice" Premiership team to being something else, whether it's here or elsewhere, we've got to dispel this bad habit. And pretty bloody quickly.

    (My comments service may not have been working earlier, there's a server upgrade going on. Apologies.)

    Friday, April 08, 2005

    Did you hear the one about the Frenchman and the kerb-crawler?

    Blogger, which publishes this site, has been down for most of Friday, so you've been denied my thoughts on tomorrow's game at Portsmouth. Which is good, because I have very few thoughts on tomorrow's game at Portsmouth. If we lose, we're as good as out of the European race, and I'd rather not think about that.

    Curbs is promising changes to the squad - and to my flawed memory, when he does it, we do well. Let's hope Kish has an on-day, and Danny Murphy is back on form. But Portsmouth have a new manager, Alain Perrin, fresh from being sacked by Arab club Al-Ain and Marseille. He also knows nothing about Charlton. Nice. ("I'm pleased to come to Portsmouth but I don’t want to change anything. I trust the present players to get results.") Alongside him is David Pleat. You almost want them to fail, not out of ill-will towards Perrin, but so Pleat finally clears his sleazy arse out of English football for good.

    As for us, there's a whacking great big rain cloud over Charlton right now, and hopefully the weather will have improved before we take a sell-out crowd by coach down to that miserable open bank at Fratton Park. And no, I'm not wearing a yellow shirt, because I don't want to stand out like a beacon in the grim streets of Fratton. Hey, I'm not even taking the free bus, either.

    Some thoughts on the match will come on Sunday, because I have to dash to a wedding reception on Saturday night. (No, not that one.) Let's hope it's a good day out.

    Wednesday, April 06, 2005

    "It's full of (cough), (cough), and Charlton..."

    This one's for the grown-ups. Look away now if you're under the age of consent, or Lee Bowyer. None of the links here are safe for work. Just for the dads, eh?

    Remember West Ham Lass? She's the young lady who got her Hammers kit off each time they won. The Irons' poor form lately has derailed her plans somewhat, but she's still at it. The site developed a sideline in other football lasses - a trip to Hartlepool has never seemed so appealling, which didn't you just know Millwall's representative would be using a moody mobile's picture?

    Which leads me to... Charlton Lass.

    All I'll say is - I've been spending the past twenty minutes trying to work out if I know her.

    Sunday, April 03, 2005

    Cheaper awaydays?

    At least, some decent thinking on how to give away attendances a boost. "Common sense" and "Premier League" don't usually go together - not shifting games to 12.45 or 5.15 for telly would help the most. But since Charlton are heavily involved in this idea, it's one to watch...

    Premiership clubs may give visiting fans cheaper tickets than home supporters in a bid to halt the recent decline in away attendances. Senior figures in the league are worried that a sizeable minority of fans who usually travel to watch their team away from home are now abandoning the habit because of high ticket prices, transport difficulties and the big increase in Premiership games being shown on live television. (more)

    Saturday, April 02, 2005

    Charlton 2-2 Manchester City

    Proper reports:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life Football 365, The Observer, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times.

    Not much I can say about this you won't know already, and frankly a couple of pints and events elsewhere have given me enough light relief to aid me in forgetting about it.

    But, quite simply, we were a shambles today, with Citeh stunningly unlucky not to walk away with all three points. I know it was breakfast-time football, but that's no excuse. The first half was apalling, with Danny Murphy having another lousy game in midfield, but looking classy in front of the hapless Mark Fish, who will be lucky if he plays another game this season. Richard Dunne's header went in off the awful Hermann Hreidarrson, but Shaun Bartlett levelled matters after a fine cross from Jerome Thomas. It all looked like it had gone to waste when Robbie Fowler scored easily at close range, despite most of our team hanging around like plonkers in the box. More top-drawer saves from Dean Kiely saved us from a second humiliation at the hands of the Massives, as Charlton were booed off at half-time.

    Alan Curbishley wasted no time in trying to sort things out - Francis Jeffers and Jon Fortune on, Fish and Jonatan Johansson off, and back to 4-4-2. The second half was a more even spectacle, but Citeh - now under Stuart Pearce ("Psycho is our leader, tra-la-la-la...") - matched us easily. Curbs rolled his dice - on came Lisbie, off came Hreidarsson, and we started playing 3-5-2. The pressure worked - in the dying moments, Chris Perry scored from a Jeffers pass. Out of jail, and don't we know it. Hopefully, we'll learn from this.

    Friday, April 01, 2005

    Ground redevelopment latest

    Charlton fans will help save energy costs when the club redevelops the East Stand, All Quiet In The East Stand can reveal.

    The new development includes housing and accomodation for a college, as well as corporate boxes and the like.

    Now a revolutionary way of keeping them warm in the winter will be pioneered if the development gets the go-ahead, I understand.

    The system involves using the heat generated by the gents' toilets on matchdays - with the steam and hot liquids produced being pumped around the new buildings, helping keep them warm without having to use gas or electricity.

    "The idea came to me while using the gents' at a night game a couple of years ago," explains heating consultant Richard Small. "The steam generated at the urinals was just dissipating into the air - but surely, with energy costs rising and our obligation to look after the environment around us, we could put this to good use?"

    Charlton chief executive Peter Varney is expected to announce further details of the scheme at midday today.

    "It'll save us money on heating, and we can put that into improving the bar facilities, which will just produce more heat through the gents' toilets. We'll also be speaking to the local hostelries about this - I'm sure the Royal Oak would be proud to know it is helping the club by serving its patrons lots of weak lager," he said.

    He added: "Indeed, we could say Charlton will be the first Premier League club to literally take the piss out of its supporters."